Trapped South African Miners Refuse to Come Up

Some emerge, but others fear being arrested
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 16, 2014 3:45 PM CST
South African Miners Refuse to Come Up
A trapped illegal miner at a disused gold mine shaft near, Benoni, South Africa, is bought to the surface Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014.   (AP Photo)

About a dozen miners have been freed from a mine in South Africa since getting trapped there yesterday, but others are refusing to emerge because they don't want to be arrested for illegal mining, Reuters and CNN report. One miner is trying to convince about 19 others to surface, but rescuers have given up trying to help for now. Only police and mine security officials are staying behind. Those who have come up were given quick medical checks (no injuries so far, officials said) and taken into police custody.

Initial reports of 200 trapped miners were apparently false, and sources are disputing just how the collapse occurred. Initially rescuers said it was a rockslide; now a rescuer says the boulders were dumped down the shaft by a rival group to trap them. Gold One, the Chinese bullion-producer that owns the shaft, blamed the miners for digging an illegal tunnel beside the shaft that collapsed behind them. Illegal gold mining is common in South Africa, where the Parliament has talked about sprucing up illegal mines so people can work there—but costs were considered prohibitive. (More South Africa stories.)

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